Spotlight Activity: Enforcement of Deforestation and Peatland Conversion Moratorium
The expansion of palm oil and pulp and paper is the greatest contributor to GHG emissions in Indonesia. Companies expanding their concessions into forests and mangroves expose carbon rich peatlands, causing massive fires. The government of Indonesia has implemented and renewed moratoriums on primary and natural forest conversion and peatland conversion as well as freezing new licenses for concessions.
The government has attributed the decline in deforestation to its moratorium enforcement efforts, which have included a new special working unit – the Directorate General of Law Enforcement – and actions such as administrative sanctions and criminal and civil court hearings taken by KLHK to condemn illegal forest conversion and land fire. KLHK has revoked and frozen company permits. This is good work. The government claims it has protected 8 million hectares of forest from illegal activities. The legal framework for forestry law enforcement appears strong. Although the deforestation rate has fallen from 1.69 million hectares in 2015 to 479 thousand in 2017, these slowing rates are not steep enough. Deforestation continues to occur on protected (12.7percent of total deforestation in 2017) and conservation forest (7.5percent).
The Indonesian government must encourage small holder farmers to intensify on existing land and begin projects to reforest cleared areas. More importantly, it must monitor large agribusinesses to ensure they do not illegally expand their concessions or convert forests and mangroves to new agriculture. In addition to monitoring illegal conversion, customary forests should be transferred from state administration – particularly from under the KLHK – and from private holdings back to communities. This would ensure sounder land management and be in line with decentralization under reformasi. Indigenous participatory mapping of 40 million hectares of customary land should be approved under land tenure reform as well. Shifting land away from potentially corrupt mismanagement under government agencies to village and community control will decrease the access of agribusiness to permitting and their ability to illicitly expand concessions.
Status: Right Direction
The movement of 1.9 million hectares of forest to community management, “social forestry,” shows that the Indonesian government is prioritizing community forest control over companies that seek to expand agriculture through mangrove and forest clearing and peatland drainage. It appears that forestry reform is moving in the right direction.
Monitoring of illegal deforestation, infringements of moratoriums, and enforcement of moratoriums could be improved. Further, only 21 industrial forestry permit holders and 39 plantation concessions have submitted plans to restore degraded lands. The Indonesian government must push more companies to submit plans to restore peatlands. So far, only 80 plantations and 15 forestry companies have begun restoration. The government also appears to be underreporting on newly issued permits for palm oil. Transparency continues to be an issue in the Indonesian ministries. In Riau, there are 18,000 square kilometers of palm oil plantations without permits. The Gecko Project, an investigation under EarthSight, recently released a report on illegal palm oil licensing between district officials and palm oil firms (link below).
The Indonesian government needs to address corruption in addition to improving illegal deforestation monitoring and moratorium enforcement.
Send Action Alert Message:
Contact Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK, Corruption Eradication Commission) if you are aware of any illegal permitting or agricultural expansion into primary forests or peatlands.
KPK email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the KHLK, which is responsible for most of the monitoring and enforcement of the moratoriums: email@example.com and http://www.menlhk.go.id/kontak.php with the following message:
Seven years after the moratorium was instituted, 10 thousand square miles of protected areas have been cleared. The enforcement of the moratorium needs to be improved. Monitoring of illegal conversion needs to be improved. The moratorium should include existing concessions, not only newly issued concessions. To prevent future fires and mitigate GHG emissions, monitoring, enforcement and robustness of moratoriums must be improved. Indonesia will not meet its Paris Agreement pledge unless the Indonesian government steps up its law enforcement and addresses corruption.